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Language Change


Part of Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics

  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107020160

£ 73.99

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About the Authors
  • How and why do languages change? This new introduction offers a guide to the types of change at all levels of linguistic structure, as well as the mechanisms behind each type. Based on data from a variety of methods and a huge array of language families, it examines general patterns of change, bringing together recent findings on sound change, analogical change, grammaticalization, the creation and change of constructions, as well as lexical change. Emphasizing crosslinguistic patterns and going well beyond traditional methods in historical linguistics, this book sees change as grounded in cognitive processes and usage factors that are rarely mentioned in other textbooks. Complete with questions for discussion, suggested readings and a useful glossary of terms, this book helps students to gain a general understanding of language as an ever-changing system.

    • This new introduction offers a guide to all aspects of language change, with an emphasis on the role of cognition and language use
    • Each chapter touches on a type of change and maps the directionality of that change so readers can grasp patterns more easily
    • Within historical linguistics, non-European languages are often overlooked; in this book, examples are given from both European and non-European languages
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book, written by someone who has been influential in shaping our understanding of phonological and grammatical processes, provides a new perspective on how the study of language change can be, and in my view should be, approached.' Bernd Heine, University of Cologne

    'The distillation of years of teaching topics that her own brilliant work has helped to define, Language Change is a welcome invitation to sit in on one of Bybee's favourite courses. Its broad scope and eclectic coverage, privileging the cognitive, processing and usage factors jointly operating in language users, make this unique among historical linguistics texts. A must-read for students and professionals interested not only in the outcomes but in the mechanisms of language change.' Shana Poplack, University of Ottawa

    '… the ideal introduction to language change, stressing cross-linguistic patterns.' Rena Torres Cacoullos, Pennsylvania State University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107020160
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 28 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The study of language change
    2. Sound change
    3. Sound change and phonological change in wider perspective
    4. The interaction of sound change with grammar
    5. Analogical change
    6. Grammaticalization: processes and mechanisms
    7. Common paths of grammaticalization
    8. Syntactic change: the development and change of constructions
    9. Lexical change: how languages get new words and how words change their meaning
    10. Comparison, reconstruction and typology
    11. Causes of language change: internal and external factors.

  • Author

    Joan Bybee, University of New Mexico
    Joan Bybee is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico.

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